London Mayor launches Schools Pollution Helpdesk

London Mayor Sadiq Khan

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has launched the new London Schools Pollution Helpdesk, a free to use service for all London schools as part of plans to clean up toxic air at schools in the worst polluted areas of the capital.

Bold measures introduced by the Mayor prior to the pandemic have already cut the number of state schools with illegal levels of pollution by 97 per cent, from 455 schools in 2016 to just 14 in 2019. However, the Mayor has publicly stated that he is determined to continue to do more to tackle poor air quality around schools, which experts say stunts the growth of children’s lungs and worsens chronic illness, such as asthma, lung and heart disease.

In partnership with environment charity Global Action Plan and Impact on Urban Health, the London Schools Pollution Helpdesk will support schools across the capital to deliver air quality audits and will prioritise the remaining schools in areas of London still exceeding or nearly exceeding legal pollution levels.

Audit recommendations for cutting pollution could include closing surrounding roads to traffic at school pick-up and drop-off times, walking and scooting campaigns, adding green infrastructure like green screens and tackling engine idling.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I am doing everything in my power to stop Londoners breathing air so filthy that it damages children’s lungs and causes thousands of premature deaths every year. There is also evidence linking air pollution with an increased vulnerability to the most severe impacts of COVID-19. The Ultra Low Emission Zone has already helped cut toxic roadside nitrogen dioxide pollution by more than 40 per cent and led to reductions that are five times greater than the national average.

“Since 2016, there has been a 97 per cent reduction in the number of schools in areas which exceed the legal limit, and I’m committed to bringing that number down to zero which is why I’ve launched the London Schools Pollution Helpdesk to help schools continue to tackle air pollution and funded the anti-idling campaign.”